Correcting errors on your credit report can be a long and tedious process. Here are a few steps that can help speed up the process.
1. Request a recent credit report directly from the credit reporting agencies Transunion , Experian and Equifax since you’ll need this report to send in your dispute and to keep on hand in case you later need to take additional steps.
Make sure you order your report directly from the bureaus, not from a third-party reseller, and avoid relying on a report you got from a lender.
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you are entitled to a free copy of each of your reports at least once every 12 months. You may also get a free report if you’ve been turned down for credit within the last 60 days. You can order a fresh report online at AnnualCreditReport.com , by telephone at 877-322-8228 or by mail . If you’ve already used up your free report for the year or have a report that’s several months old, go ahead and pay to get a new one, say experts. You can expect to pay up to $12, depending on the credit bureau and the state where you live. Some states, such as Colorado, California, Georgia and Maine, allow you to get an additional report for free or at a reduced price.
2. Scan your report to identify errors and inaccuracies.
Many times when checking your credit report you may only notice major errors however it’s advisable to look closely for other, smaller mistakes on your report, such as incorrect addresses or a slight misspelling of your name or social security number since these things can be signs of mixed files or potential identity theft.
Also check your report to see who has accessed your credit information and if you see a company that you don’t recognize or authorize to access your credit report make a request to find out why that inquiry as alllowed.
3. Make notes on the credit report highliting the errors.
Once you’ve marked up the report, make multiple copies. You’ll need them for your files, as well for your disputes.
4. Write or type your dispute letter yourself. Don’t dispute the error online.
Sending in a dispute online may be quick. However, consumer lawyers say it’s one of the biggest mistakes you can make.
Online disputes are also not set up to accept additional evidence, such as a copy of a check or of your Social Security card, say experts — and those pieces of evidence can be important later on if you do need to go to court to prove that a credit reporting agency isn’t correcting a legitimate mistake.
In addition, many online dispute forms contain arbitration clauses , which can undercut your consumer rights.
Type up, then mail your dispute instead. That way, you can include as much information and evidence as you need to explain your case. Also, if you do wind up in court, you’ll be able to prove to the judge assigned to your case that you gave the credit bureaus enough information to properly investigate your dispute.
5. Separate disputes into multiple letters.
If you have more than one error on your report, don’t try to dispute all the errors together also write separate letters to each credit bureau that’s reporting the mistakes. The credit bureaus aren’t obligated to notify each other of the dispute until at least one of them has confirmed the error is inaccurate.
As final word of advice, be persistent and patient, if you stay organized and don’t give up after the first obstacle, you should be able to correct all the errors from your credit reports.